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January, 2006 - Nr. 1


The Editor
Der Weihnachtsmann,
Paul Bernhard Berghorn
A Classic is Reborn
"Happy New Year"...
Herwig Wandschneider
Love for Vienna...
K-W & Beyond
An Austrian Event
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
'Between the Years'
Neuschwanstein in the Running
Klum touts Sauerkraut
King Kong's Kretschmann
Choirs Back in Style
Free Noon Hour Concert
Orchestra Toronto Event
German Films Honoured
Opera York Fundraiser
New Films in Washington
Goodbye to Beloved Hippo
Castle Belleview Re-opened

The magic surrounding Christmas

  Surely there is hardly another festivity on the planet that is as inclusive to all people then the Christmas season. This is not just a Christian commemorative and celebratory event; it has evolved into a universal festivity of generosity, of giving and receiving, of including all of mankind into its own brotherhood. It is a time to remind us that there can be new beginnings, that there is hope, and there is glory in helping those less fortunate than ourselves.

I have many friends of other religions and they all have adopted the Christmas tree as a symbol to light up the darkness during the longest nights of the year. That is all it is, an evolution from other pagan customs crossed over to be used at Christmas time. Thus I have always been a bit surprised by the resistance of some people to this symbol or to even reject it outright. It is the most universal of its kind among the cultures, other than a simple candle by itself. An evergreen tree with candles inspires all dreams of freedom from hardships and evil of all kinds. I did not have a tree, a real tree, this year and feel almost as though I committed a crime of omission. But I did light candles frequently to chase away the dark.

There is only one other activity that can gladden my heart during this season of joy and I took advantage of a few of them. Having the opportunity to see James Kudelka’s celebrated Nutcracker ballet production in its 10th anniversary year was indeed magic. Taking the best of all husbands was especially gratifying, since he had never experienced this special delight before. Together we revelled with the rest of the audience, especially the children, in the festive presentation. The familiar music, the voluptuous costumes, the exquisite dancing all transported us back in time when we still believed in miracles that could not be explained with a bit of technical expertise.

We sat close enough to the stage to almost smell the make-up beyond the orchestra pit. The story unfolded and pulled the audience into the scenery on stage. The happy sighs of oohs and aahs were lots of reward for the artists long before the last curtain fell and the thunderous applause had subsided.

All the way home I hummed the famous melodies, and even on the next day I still skipped up the stairs like I had not done in a long time and smiled a lot.

Amazing what the arts can do for the wellbeing of a person, especially and even more so if the production is not hampered by lack of money. This production is so luxurious it is almost decadent, and it did spread gladness and joy. I saw it on all the faces.

Detour Via Salzburg

It also is not Christmas without a concert tour Via Salzburg. Mayumi Seiler offered again something very special. Starting with a Ravel String Quartet the audience was treated to the passion that makes this musical ensemble so appealing. There is passion in everything that is performed. This became very noticeable in the following piece composed by Penderecki, which was choreographed by Noko Murakoshi and performed by her and Bill Coleman. It was a gripping performance expressing deep insight into the emotional differences in relationships between men and women.

To celebrate Mozart’s upcoming birthday the concert ended with a Mozart Divertimento for strings and 2 horns. This tour de force performance was so very delightful to listen to, even if it was difficult to perform. Mayumi and her merry band of musicians made it sound easy and left me feeling light-hearted for days.

Via Salzburg appears to have a new set of sponsors and with it there was a different audience apparent. We hope that this dedicated ensemble enjoys much support and big audiences in the future. For anyone who loves chamber music Via Salzburg is a must- hear. The next concert takes place in February, always in the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto’s CBC Building on Front Street. Go to and see what is coming up. Do not miss the magic that comes to us throughout the year.

How about a new years resolution that includes going more often to an uplifting concert? Now that would be beneficial to a lot of people!

Until next time

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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